People in every generation have a day they will never forget.
This was the message Eastern New Mexico University President Dr. Steve Gamble presented to ENMU students and faculty on 9/11’s two-year anniversary during a 20-minute ceremony at noon near the campus fountain.
For Gamble it was Nov. 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. For his parents it was Dec. 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. For this generation Gamble said it’s Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists guided passenger airplanes into the Twin Towers in New York City.
“I’ll never forget the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. I can tell you exactly where I was at that time. I was in a physics class at Big Springs High School in Big Springs, Texas…” Gamble said. “You folks will never forget 9/11…You’ll always remember what you were doing at the time you heard the news.”
Approximately 150 people attended the memorial dedicated to ENMU alumni Maj. Ronald D. Milam, who died in the attacks.
The 9/11 attack killed thousands, prompted lifelong changes for tens of thousands, emotionally affected millions and shocked billions of people worldwide.
Senior Hiram Perry said 9/11 — and attending a university speech given by a grievance counselor who was at ground zero — acts as an inspiration toward a career in counseling.
Perry, sporting blue jeans and a cowboy hat at Thursday’s ceremony, said he changed from a wildlife and fisheries major to a psychology major after listening the counselor’s speech.
“The day of 9/11 changed my life,” Perry said. “I just shed a tear and realized what it is to be a patriot. I’m a little old to join the (military) but I sure would have gone if they would have took me.”
For ENMU senior Sara Holland the years following the tragedy have unified the country.
“There is definitely a lot more awareness of how great the country is and we can’t take that for granted,” Holland said.
Holland, who was wearing a T-shirt which read “I (Love) NY,” said her father is in the military and it’s important to honor those who defend America.
The ceremony included a brief speech from ENMU student body president Bob Cornelius, a performance of the Star Spangled Banner by the ENMU Swanee Singers and a prayer by Scott Jarvis, chair of ENMU’s Department of Religion.
Earlier Thursday morning officials at Portales National Bank also honored the victims and heroes of 9/11.
Bank owner David Stone said city and county officials and Cannon Air Force base personnel attended the ceremony.
At a 9/11 ceremony at CAFB, Commander Col. Robert Yates said the war on terror directly impacted CAFB, which at one point had nearly a quarter of its uniformed personnel deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom or other terrorism-related missions. About 80 of Cannon’s 3,400 personnel are still deployed, he said.
“(Cannon personnel) have been at the forefront of the war against terror since 9/11, but it is very important that we remember those who are still over there, who are still fighting, who are still losing their lives on our behalf to defend our freedom,” Yates said. “Today we’re here to commemorate the sacrifice of fellow Americans; we are still at war with evil.”
Freedom Newspapers staff writer Darrell Todd Maurina contributed to this report.